Calambur. A dream for an Industrial State

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GIF, Hand Drawing, Students

Calambur. A dream for an Industrial State

Irene Rodriguez


Urtinsa is an industrial state placed in Alcorcón, a peripheral city  near Madrid. Its degradation has been taking place for years, but new dynamics provoked by the users themselves are reowning and transforming the preexisting context. How could the architect take advantage of this processes, generating a new city and at the same time not forgetting the industrial state’s past and history?


This project reflects not only about architecture itself, but about systems. Systems that could allow the architect guide the user, but let him customize his own living space in every scale. The ”Calambur”a spanish literary figure, is the tool that the architec uses to rearrange and reinvent the ordinary urban elements to adapt them to an industrial degraded urban tissue.





Who influences you graphically? 

Inspiration has come from many different fields. My main graphical reference has been a Spanish illustrator called Miraruido. He combines old black-and-white pictures with colourful images, using contemporary techniques to bring them to live. His influence on my work has been of great value as he reflects on one of the main topics of my project: the dialogue between the present and the past. In relation to his work and his own references, other collage artists are essential for me too: Emmanuelle Polanco or Eduardo Recife among them.


The whole project is narrated as a tale of the dreams of different people coming together, finding their way to come true. This dreamy atmosphere that is implied along the whole work was inspired by surrealists like René Magritte or Salvador Dalí, I even used Magritte’s eye from the ‘’Fake Mirror’’ to introduce the ‘’Dream City’’ in the video. (

The works of the spanish architects Langarita-Navarro and Arenas-Basabe-Palacios who believe in architecture in service of the user, in participatory assessment and in using more human and less expensive materials use graphic methods that helped me widely (both graphically and architecturally) in to thinking how to develop the explanation of the project.

The use of hand drawings to reveal the proposal was not random, it intended to express the most familiar and domestic situations, and inspiration also came from a humble spanish agency called Improvistos: their sensitive and human architecture couldn’t be showed any way better than by hand drawings.

What is your take on the silhouette? 

Considering the term ” silhouette ” as the digital cuts of people from pictures that us architects always use to ” humanize ” our images, I think that they generally lack personality and are somehow unnatural. It has always taken me a long time to find the right silhouettes to use In my projects, and on many occasions I have tried to generate images that do not need more than one for their correct understanding.

What lead you to use the ‘cutout mix silhouettes’?

The cutout mix silhouettes were perfect for my project for two reasons: it speaks about customization and personalization, and the unique personality of the silhouettes helped me to express this concepts. At the same time, the project reflects on the particular creating the whole, on the dreams of different beings coming together to create just one vision, one space, so the identity of the resulted dream’s author becomes unknown, it belongs to nobody, but to everybody. The fact that the silhouettes were faceless related to the fact that the space that was created, in the end, belongs to everyone. The only face that is showed in the bigger collage is the little astronaut boy’s one, because he is my father in his childhood and I wanted him to be noticed.


What defined the use of the blue for the line drawings?

Again, several reasons lead me to this colour: firstly, the search for an atmosphere of reverie, which gave the impression of something not static and not permanent, for which blue seemed to me a most appropriate colour. Secondly, the clear distinction and contrast between the past and pre-existing (in black) and the present (the different tones of blue).



How could the notion of system be explored further through challenging a different format? 

The interest of the Calambur as one of the project’s elements resides in its value as a tool that could be applicable to any other context. This literary figure, which consists in changing the order of the syllables or words of a sentence to totally transform its meaning, is posed as the seed to give rise to a chart of strategies and solutions based on that principle. Mixing programs, forms, urban situations, to make them reappear in a way that is not ordinary at all.

I consider that the real challenge of the generation of an Architectural System is, actually, to truly and deeply comprehend the environment or place in which it is applied. Once a method of analysis and action is found, the results appear almost automatically, at the scale in which it is needed. To sum up, the project starts from a ‘genesis matrix’ in which a series of factors and agents that participate are introduced: it is from this multifactorial consideration from which the idea arises. Thus, by making variations on the elements that make up the matrix, different results should be obtained for varied contexts.


The matrix

What dictated the choice of images you chose to reveal the proposal through? 

The Project covers a huge area, besides managing the concept of time as part of the architecture that is generated. In it, the particular gives rise to the complex, so I had to focus on images that, while generic, were also full of specific information. The project is urban and domestic at the same time. Its “glocal” character (local action from a general point of view) defines the choice of fragments shown in the images as ‘identifying’ examples of the situations that I imagine could be generated. Ambiguous Environments  but at the same time detailed to clarify the level of thorougness of the proposal, as in “Over he warehouse”: space carefully posed on the industrial warehouse’s roofs, with a calculated and accurate materiality, but with high presence of the human factor for its final configuration.


Were there any specific parameters you adhered to when constructing the images? 

For both the images and the construction of the Project itself, I used parameters carefully analyzed in a previous process, such as:

– The urban elements of the periphery of Madrid, which I called “urban islands”.

They are buildings that appear as a patch to overcome the shortcomings of peripheral planning, and in which there are numerous situations happening at different scales.

However, at the same time, they occupy a much greater surface than that necessary in the fabric of the city, and barely relate to their surroundings.

From an atomization and reinterpretation of its dynamics I obtain one of the sources for the awakening of the new city.


The urban islands


– The preexistences of interest in Urtinsa, such as the warehouse typologies (because of their flexibility and large surface), the voids and abandoned spaces (because of their potential for the urban reconfiguration of the industrial state) and the industrial mainstays (as a support for the generation of an identity For the new city).- The so-called ”advanced neighborhood parameters’’, extracted from the analysis of neighborhoods considered to be successful in terms of user satisfaction and functionality. All these parameters are intended to be shown and taken into account when composing each of the images, translated in a variety of situations and scales, in the combination of textures and in highlighting the industrial character of the intervention among other characteristics.


The atomization catalogue


Irene graduated this year at the ETSAM (Technical School of Architecture of Madrid) after finishing her Master of Architecture at HERREROS Unit, leaded by the teacher Juan Herreros. Her career has taken place between the University of Alcalá, l’École Nationale Supérieure d’Architecture Paris-Belleville, the University of la República in Uruguay and this last year, the School of Madrid. She has also participated in Workshops in Cambodia, Paris and London (at the Bartlett School of Architecture). She has been an intern at Kengo Kuma & Associates (Paris Office) and Ruiz-Larrea & Associates.



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